Fellow Twin and Triplet Moms,
Like most twin moms, I am not a twin. I definitely remember the sting of being regularly compared to my brothers though. It always hurt us, and our relationship. Since my twin boys have been constantly compared from the day they were born (by every passing stranger), it didn’t surprise me when I started to see a competitive streak emerge in their relationship.
It started off small with, “I want to go first!” but escalated from there. It got to where all I had to say was, “Time to brush teeth.” Liam would shout, “I’m gonna beat you!” Nolan would let out a scream in terror, and they’d both race to the bathroom. Inevitably the first one there would yell, “I won!” while his brother collapsed on the floor crying. To combat this competitive streak, I found myself trying to do everything exactly the same, always. Keeping track of who got the passenger-side car seat last (since it’s clearly superior). Who got to wear the preferred shirt last, and handing them food and drinks in carefully synchronized motions so no one got theirs first. It was an exercise in futility. I could not replicate every life experience in the same way, at all times for both of them. At my wits end after one episode, I sat them down very frustrated to talk about it. I instantly began to flounder in my mind how to explain this concept to (then) three- year-olds. Winging it, I said, “Sometimes Liam will be first, and sometimes Nolan will be first. . . And that’s ok. It’s not a competition. . . We’re a family. . . We’re a team. We stick together.” (Don’t cue the inspirational background music. I had no confidence they had any idea of what I was trying to say.) Then one day, the boys were headed into our house from the car, a usual racing time. I saw one of my boys go to the other, grab his hand, and happily say, “Let’s share the competition!” They ran to the door, hand in hand, and squealed with joy when they both got to the door at the same time. Of course, I melted with pride! I was so glad they had come up with their own solution, together.
Not long after this, we were expecting some good friends from Nebraska to stay with us over the weekend. While we consider them very close friends, we only see them about once a year. (They have two singleton boys just a little younger than ours.) As I always did, I began to get anxious as the weekend grew closer. Toys were everywhere. I needed to dust, vacuum, make their beds, clean the bathrooms, and go through the papers on the table, . . . The list went on. The day before they were supposed to arrive, my friend texted me that they had come down with a cold and wouldn’t make it. I sarcastically (but in all seriousness) texted back that it was just fine because I hadn’t started my frantic, last minute cleaning yet. She responded with, “We are both moms and are on the same team . . . No judging here.” The word TEAM struck me. I’d often thought and heard how important it is not to judge one another as moms, but I love that she said we were on the same team. What makes us a “team”? Teams have a common goal. Teams stop whatever they are doing in a game to help an injured teammate. There is no “I” in . . . Ok, you get the picture.
So I confess to you all, as just another teammate, that in all honesty, 2015 was the hardest year of my life, as a parent and a person. My boys had two surgeries (each). We had to cut out the only two food groups they were currently eating, dairy and gluten. (Dairy is back now, thank goodness!) We had over half a dozen trips to the ER. Liam was hospitalized for several days at the end of June. I was hospitalized in November. I never imagined that life could be this difficult.
When I joined this club however, my boys were only two weeks old, and none of our friends had kids yet, let alone twins. Everyone who was ecstatic during my pregnancy was petrified after they were born. Apparently two tiny babies on oxygen were not what they (or I for that matter) expected, and friends/family quickly went back to their own lives after the birth. I staggered into a Twin Connection meeting in December just hoping that I could be back in time to pump again. I’ll never forget that meeting though. Everyone simply smiled empathetically and said, “We’ve been there.” For me, that was all I needed to hear. I didn’t need all the answers. (Although they had great suggestions!) I didn’t need a condescending stranger to tell me how I was doing it wrong. I just needed some empathy. They told me, not in words, but in so many ways, “You will survive to see better days.” And they were right.
So I consider it a privilege to say to you, while five years later, my world is still falling apart. I still don’t have my (insert expletive) together. The very same moms who propped me up in 2010, kept me, and this club together in 2015. (You know who you are. With every fiber in my being, thank you.) So welcome to multiples’ boot camp if you are new! Thank you for not leaving if you’re a veteran!
Come to an event and if someone asks, “How are you doing?” and you can only mutter a (sigh), know that we get it. Someone in this club has probably experienced the pain, exhaustion, and/or isolation you are feeling. But mothers of multiples are built of stronger stuff. They’ve had to fight bigger battles than most moms. While we may have differing opinions on what being the “perfect mom” looks like, I know one thing for certain. We all desperately try to be that mom. And we all have days where we fall short. So no mom-petition here. Thanks for being on my team.